Voters to Weigh in on Clean Water Measure

Los Angeles County’s water management system is over 100 years old. When it rains, the system is unable to capture significant amounts of stormwater before it heads untreated to the ocean and other waterways. It is estimated that every year over 100 billion gallons of water in Los Angeles County are lost in this way. This loss of usable water has a significant impact on a water-scarce area such as Los Angeles County.

(Photo: Robert Wheaton)

(Photo: Robert Wheaton)

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Los Angeles County residents will vote on Measure W. If passed by a 2/3rds majority, the measure will establish a parcel tax of 2.5₵ per square foot of impermeable area, except as exempted. “Impermeable Area” is defined by Measure W as “area covered by materials or constructed surfaces such as buildings, roofs, paved roadways, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, brick, asphalt, concrete, pavers, covers, slabs, sheds, pools, and other constructed surfaces. Impermeable Areas do not include permeable surfaces such as vegetated areas, grasses, bushes, shrubs, lawns, bare soil, tree canopy, natural water bodies, wetland areas, gravel, gardens and planters on bare soil, rock shores, and other natural areas.”

If approved by voters, Measure W is expected to raise approximately $300,000,000 per year to fund various water projects throughout the county. The annual parcel tax to homeowners is approximately $83 for a median home. To estimate the parcel tax for a specific property, use the calculator at safecleanwaterla.org. [The calculator is located under the Measure W heading on the website’s home page.]

Proponents of Measure W believe it is necessary to increase local water supplies, help clean contaminated water, and help the region prepare for drought.

Those in opposition to Measure W argue that it is an unnecessary tax and that it’s not clear how much taxpayers will have to pay and that the tax is permanent. They also take issue with the measure because it is not specified which individual projects will be funded by Measure W.

Background

Los Angeles County’s water management system is over 100 years old. When it rains, the system is unable to capture significant amounts of stormwater before it heads untreated to the ocean and other waterways. It is estimated that every year over 100 billion gallons of water in Los Angeles County are lost in this way. This loss of usable water has a significant impact on a water-scarce area such as Los Angeles County. 100 billion gallons is enough to meet the needs of two million county residents for an entire year. Currently, Los Angeles County imports as much as 2/3rds of its water from outside sources.

Additionally, untreated stormwater can pose a serious health hazard to residents and marine animals. This is because the stormwater picks up trash, plastics, and other contaminants as it heads to the ocean. As a result, beach closures often occur after a heavy rain.

(Photo: Robert Wheaton)

(Photo: Robert Wheaton)

Recent projects

LOS ANGELES RIVER TRASH AND DEBRIS COLLECTION SYSTEM

In 2000, the Los Angeles Flood Control District installed the Los Angeles River Trash and Debris Collection System as a pilot demonstration project. Its purpose was to test an innovative technology to capture trash and debris at the mouth of the Los Angeles River. It became an ongoing program in 2003.

According to Los Angeles County Public Works the system “has proven to be effective in improving water quality within the Los Angeles River.”

The system collects approximately 1,200 tons of trash, vegetation, and debris each year.

Public Works plans to extend the system to the east bank of the Los Angeles River. This will allow the system to better redirect trash during storm flows.

THE DOMINGUEZ GAP WETLANDS MULTI-USE PROJECT

The Dominguez Gap Wetlands Multi-Use Project was identified in the 1996 Los Angeles River Master Plan as one of the top five demonstration projects. According to Los Angeles County Public Works it was designed to “provide flood management, water quality, environmental, recreational and educational enhancements.”

The project consisted of converting a 37-acre parcel into wetlands to improve water quality. It also provides a habitat for various plant species and wildlife.

Construction on the project was completed in 2008 at a cost of $7.1 million.

Future improvements include the addition of approximately 60 trees. The new trees will provide increased shade to the habitat and to improve air quality.

Proposed projects eligible for Measure W
(partial list)

COMPTON CREEK PROJECT

This project is located at the site of Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park on East El Segundo Boulevard and Wadsworth Avenue. This $50 million project is designed divert urban and stormwater runoff into a water treatment system as well as other uses.

LADERA PARK STORMWATER CAPTURE PROJECT

The project is designed to capture and infiltrate urban stormwater runoff from the unincorporated are Ladera Heights. The total cost of this project is estimated at $9.5 million.

MONTEITH PARK STORMWATER CAPTURE PROJECT

This project is designed to capture and infiltrate urban stormwater runoff from the unincorporated area of View Park. The total project cost is estimated at $2.5 million.

VIEW PARK GREEN ALLEY PROJECT

This project located in an alley near the corner of South Victoria Avenue and West Mount Vernon Drive in View Park. It will improve water quality by capturing urban stormwater runoff. The total project cost is estimated at $500 thousand.

Funding Breakdown of Measure W

MUNICIPAL PROGRAM – 40% of the program funds return directly to cities and unincorporated areas

REGIONAL PROGRAM – 50% of revenues to fund watershed-based projects with regional benefits

DISTRICT PROGRAM – 10% of revenues to the Los Angeles County Flood Control District

For more information about Measure W and to see additional project examples visit Safe Clean Water L.A. at www.safecleanwaterla.org.

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